‘We are building leaders’: Free city pass program aims to help teens access community centers
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - City leaders are putting a new initiative in place to keep kids safe from gun violence in Springfield. Universal city passes will soon be handed out so teens can access community centers across their city.
This was developed as a way to keep kids off the streets and out of trouble as Springfield continues to tackle gun violence.
Western Mass News spoke with people who credit their success to local community centers and want to use this new pass program to offer the same opportunities to others.
City leaders opened new doors to opportunity for Springfield’s youth on Monday.
The universal city pass program is a result of recent community roundtable discussions working towards combatting gun violence in the city.
“We want to be more proactive then reactive in our initiative in Springfield especially to combat gun violence,” said City Councilor Lavar Click-Bruce.
He said he’s looking forward to sharing opportunities he had as a kid.
“Grew up in Mason Square, and quite frankly I had these resources offered to me for free, whereas we would go to the Dunbar, but also the family center MLK the south end community center and play,” added Click-Bruce.
By scanning the QR code on the back of the pass, kids and teens have access to ten city community centers and their resources for one week, including the Boys and Girls Club Family Center.
Executive Director Keshawn Dodds told Western Mass News this can lead kids to a brighter future.
“We are building leaders, from our young ladies and our young men, we give them in our organizations that have great mentors, that can guide them in the right direction, give them everything they need from education to athletics and just give them the guidance of seeing what they can be,” expressed Dodds.
That’s why kids can return even after the week-long trial, he said the pass is just the welcome mat.
“Our doors are open to every kid we do not turn away because of cost we want to make sure that they have this pass that is offered for the week, but we also offer it long term extended warranty on this thing we want to make sure kids can come in enjoy themselves get involved and find employment thought us,” said Dodds.
These passes will be handed out to families and kids soon. They will also be available in gathering places like churches, libraries and hair salons, you can ask a Springfield Police officer and they will have some on hand too.
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